As the Metrolinx Davenport Reference Panel wraps up its work this Saturday, I continue to have serious concerns with Metrolinx's plans to build a large rail bridge over our community. Building on my Motion that was passed at Toronto City Council in April, I wrote to Metrolinx last week outlining some of my concerns.
Some of the key issues that I have asked Metrolinx President & CEO Bruce McCuaig to consider immediately include:
- I believe that it is in the public interest to fully understand the decision behind recommending an overpass, as opposed to a below grade option to bypass the Davenport Diamond as it does appear that there could be significant community benefits that would arise from a below grade option. The first time the City received Metrolinx's two feasibility studies on this project was April 16, 2015. As a result, City Planning staff require adequate time to complete a technical review of the work completed to-date and determine whether City objectives have been addressed in the decision making process that flowed from these studies.
- The City has recently advised Metrolinx that a new GO Station at Bloor Street and Lansdowne Avenue is in the City's Official Plan and is a key issue. I strongly believe that a GO Station at Bloor Street and Lansdowne Avenue as part of the Barrie GO Line is necessary for local residents, the surrounding community and to enhance network connectivity. This stop would help alleviate the ridership pressures on the Jane, Keele, and Dufferin TTC bus routes, while providing another vital link for transit riders on the Bloor-Danforth Subway Line.
If this station does not get built, it would represent a missed opportunity by Metrolinx to enhance network connectivity for both GO Transit and the TTC, and to increase the economic competitiveness of the Greater Toronto Area. In addition to the local community benefits, there are employment lands located nearby that would benefit from such a transit connection. I am sure that you and I can both agree on how important it is to provide more public transit options for riders.
- As you may be aware, Toronto City Council has directed the City's Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat to ensure that land-use planning (including grade separation underground or above ground) and urban design considerations are part of the Environmental Assessment process being carried out by Metrolinx for the rail grade separation project. The process to consider how design excellence is embedded in the project solution has yet to be realized, as no scope has been developed and no process appears to be in place to co-ordinate this with the technical review. It is important that the local community also receives the best possible benefit from this project. In light of those points, a related point is how much will Metrolinx contribute for public realm improvements as part of this project?
- Development of an agreed Project Schedule in consultation with City staff, that provides sufficient time for technical review iterations, and community input and discussion on the options, analysis, community benefits, and design excellence of the preferred solution.
I look forward to meeting with Metrolinx in the near future to discuss my concerns and other issues that have been raised throughout this process. I will continue keep you informed every step of the way as we obtain more information.